Summer Opera Workshop Returns to Kingwood, Bigger and Better Than Ever

Published on: July 01, 2009

HOUSTON (July 1, 2009) – Now in its fourteenth season, the popular Summer Opera Workshop series returns to Kingwood this summer with its most powerful season yet. Four performances which highlight a trilogy of popular romantic comedy operas run July 9–12.

“The opera workshop has doubled in size over last year, due in part to our new voice faculty members, Anne Heath-Welch and Gottfried Schiller,” said Dr. Todd Miller, professor of music at LSC-Kingwood and producing director of the workshop. “With more than 60 participants this year, we are able to offer the community large chorus scenes and a cast that includes students from LSC-Kingwood and several area high schools, voice majors from Sam Houston State and the University of Houston, community members, and young professional singers.”

Audiences may recognize some of the cast members many have been involved with the workshop since it began. One long-time cast member, Margie VanBrackle, remembers the early days:

“Beth Higgins and I have watched the program grow since 1996,” she recalled. “When we began, we had one director/conductor, one accompanist, and a cast of around 12. The director and cast built sets, painted backdrops, and helped scrounge for props and put together costumes. Fortunately, during the fourth summer we were able to move from performing on a makeshift platform in an atrium to a real theater.”

VanBrackle said changes continued gradually, however this summer the production grew tremendously and includes three directors, three coach/accompanists, a conductor/producer, a stage manager, a tech director, a costumer, and a huge cast.

“Things that haven’t changed over the years are the makeup of the cast and the enthusiasm of the directors,” VanBrackle added. “The cast always includes college students and community members of all ages; also participating are adults who perform professionally as well as high schoolers just getting their feet wet. The directors continue to put on the best show they can in the fast and furious few weeks of a summer college term. However, their main goals seem to be to sharing their knowledge, experience, and love of opera and encouraging the participants to get out there and have fun. That’s what our ever- growing audience sees and appreciates: talented performers of all ages and levels of experience conveying their enthusiasm for this musical art form.”

Under the theme “Forbidden Love,” the 2009 workshop showcases cut versions in English of three popular romantic comedy operas: The Barber of Seville, Gioachino Rossini’s comic masterpiece with many popular tunes; The Bartered Bride, Bedrich Smetana’s folk opera where all is made right in the end; and Thomas Pasatieri’s short comic gem, Signor Deluso, where jealously reigns until all is revealed. Scenes are fully staged, costumed and lit, and are accompanied by two pianists. A fourth opera excerpt Richard Strauss’ short Der Rosenkavalier will be performed in German. Opera fans may recall that it includes the famous “rose presentation” scene, one of the most beautiful musical scenes of all time.

Summer opera workshop performances will be held in the Student Center/Fine Arts Building performing arts theatre, July 9-11 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 12 at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. For more information, call 281-312-1485.